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Smart Home

FirstBuild designs for the future, but which of its appliances will get there?

Check out what FirstBuild appliance projects have actually made it as disruptive products.

Megan Wollerton/CNET

The FirstBuild microfactory set up shop in 2014. Backed by GE Appliances. FirstBuild's mission is to harness crowdsourced product ideas and design input, then make limited batches of small appliances. Since product concepts come directly from FirstBuild's online community, new appliances should have strong customer demand built right in.  

To some extent that's true. Since First Build's launch, we've seen a steady flow of interesting small appliance concepts come to market at full-fledged products. Some, like the $500 Opal Nugget Ice, appear to be successful. Others, such as the $299 Paragon Induction Cooktop, are useful but too expensive for what they do.

FirstBuild is still at it though, with many plans for future home appliances.It recently unveiled the Forge Clear Ice System. With an expected sticker price of $1,499, the Forge definitely qualifies as a luxury ice maker. It's also quite a departure from the Opal. There's a lot more to talk about though. Sit back as we take a look at noteworthy FirstBuild projects past, present and on the horizon.  

A prototype of the Forge Clear Ice System at work.

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FirstBuild Forge Clear Ice System

Announced in August 2018, the Forge Clear Ice System is the most recent FirstBuild appliance project. Priced at $1,499, it's also one of its most expensive. If this countertop-size gourmet ice ball maker becomes a reality by November 2019, it'll be an accomplishment. The Forge should provide the easiest way to mint large, crystal-clear spheres of ice at home.

FirstBuild Paragon Mat

This version of the Paragon Induction Cooktop comes with a mat accessory. The Mat sits on top of the appliance's induction burner and lets you set or hold specific pan temperatures. This capability comes in handy when cooking multiple items, like eggs and pancakes, with nearly identical results.

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The FirstBuild Paragon Mat

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FirstBuild has extended the Opal ice maker brand to include a flake ice maker.

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FirstBuild Opal Flake Ice

Hot on the heels of its Opal Nugget Ice success, FirstBuild geared up to create another ice machine. This one makes soft flake ice, the kind used in snow cones and slushies.

The Precision Bakeware prototype senses when your food is ready by its internal temperature. 

FirstBuild

FirstBuild Precision Bakeware

Not sure when your cake is done? The Precision Bakeware line of smart cookware is designed to tell you. Inside each bakeware piece is a sensor that monitors temperature. When your food has reached its target temp, the sensor pings compatible GE Wi-Fi ovens. The oven then pushes notifications to your phone alerting you it's time to remove your goodies.

The Prisma made cold brewed coffee in 10 minutes.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

FirstBuild Prisma Cold Brew coffee maker

Here's a case of FirstBuild coming close but failing to cross the finish line. Back in 2016, the Prisma was supposed to whip up carafes of cold brew coffee in 10 minutes. Unfortunately, the Prisma fell just under $5.000 shy of its Indiegogo goal ($150,000). The project was called off soon after. Perhaps that's for the better, since today competing gadgets do the same thing faster and for less money. The $129 Dash Rapid Cold Brew System and $100 Gourmia Cold Brew Coffee Maker are good examples.  

The Opal Nugget Ice makes pellet-style, chewable ice at home.

Chris Monroe/CNET

FirstBuild Opal Nugget Ice

This ice maker hit took advantage of a large gap in the market, a relatively affordable home nugget ice maker. Priced at $500, the Opal is a fraction of what you'd pay for a nugget ice machine targeted at commercial or luxury domestic buyers.

The Paragon Induction Cooktop comes with a wireless Bluetooth temperature probe.

Chris Monroe/CNET

FirstBuild Paragon Induction Cooktop

Induction cooking is fast, responsive and efficient. Not everyone has the budget or space though to install a new range equipped with induction burners in their home, though. The $299 Paragon Induction Cooktop is a handy workaround that offers lots of useful extras as well. It sous vides, slow cooks and sautes, and it has a Bluetooth temperature probe that links to a mobile app.

The LineCook Oven paved the way for other barcode-scanning kitchen appliances.

CNET

FirstBuild LineCook Oven

While the large LineCook oven never made it out of prototype status, it was the harbinger of future kitchen appliances with similar technology. Both the previous LineCook design concept and current $140 GE Smart Countertop Microwave scan barcodes of packaged food. They then adjust their settings automatically based on what you'd like to cook.

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FirstBuild Paragon Induction Cooktop